Case Study Lean Manufacturing

Case Studies Examining Lean Manufacturing Strategies, Pollution Prevention, and Environmental Regulatory Management Implications


In working with regulated industries over the past eight years, many EPA regulatory reinvention initiatives have recognized an emerging and very real redefinition of the manufacturing landscape. Largely, this movement has arisen in the context of today’s increasingly competitive “immediate” global market, requiring companies to conceive and deliver products faster, at lower cost, and of better quality than their competitors. Lean manufacturing is a leading manufacturing paradigm of this fast-paced market economy, with a fundamental focus on the systematic elimination of waste that holds the potential to produce meaningful environmental results.

Realizing that this waste-focused paradigm shift held the potential to create positive environmental outcomes, EPA authorized this study of Corporate Environmental Management and Compliance, designed to analyze corporate business strategies and environmental management approaches and to assess the presence of waste elimination patterns similar to those observed in previous reinvention efforts. This project entailed the analysis of five “assembly” case studies and two “metal fabrication” case studies at the Boeing Company, an enterprise that has adopted, and is in the process of implementing, Lean Manufacturing principles. The case studies describe various Lean efforts at Boeing’s Auburn Machine Fabrication Shop and its Everett airplane assembly plant, and demonstrate how Boeing implements and utilizes Lean strategies in its manufacturing settings. The case studies also describe various resource productivity gains associated with the identified Lean activities, and several obstacles encountered by the Compa in its efforts to implement specific Lean projects.

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

In its most basic form, Lean Manufacturing is the systematic elimination of waste by focusing on production costs, product quality and delivery, and worker involvement. In the 1950s, Taiichi Ohno, developer of the Toyota “just-in-time” Production System, created the modern intellectual and cultural framework for Lean Manufacturing and waste elimination. Ohno defined waste as “any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value.” Largely, Lean Manufacturing represents a fundamental paradigm shift from traditional “batch and queue” mass production to production systems based on product aligned “single-piece flow, pull production.” Read more on Lean Manufacturing

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